Roberta Wagner, director of the food safety office at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said mandates in FSMA for have accelerated progress toward integrated food safety systems and the Partnership for Food Protection. She said one of the challenges for government is to figure out how to better share data.
Wagner cited an example of one food company that had six government audits within a six-month period last year. She said the company produces human and animal food, as well as having organic products.
“They are an unusual case, but there should be some way to coordinate things. Maybe a group visit on one day instead of individual audits will be possible one day,” Wagner said.
To achieve better cooperation among governmental entities, Wagner said FDA created a taskforce last year to identify weaknesses and develop an action plan. That internal “self-help” document is already being used to help the agency meet FSMA requirements, she said.
Timothy Weigner, branch director for FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, said he is seeing progress toward integration and standardization among various levels of governmental food safety agencies. He said FMSA provisions are stimulating movement.
“As of April, 553 regional jurisdictions are enrolled in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards,” Weigner said.
“We are also seeing the development of rapid response teams for food-related illnesses. We can’t stop all (such) events, but we can sure respond faster to lessen their impact.”